Friday, January 24, 2014


I can feel it coming for me.

I feel it as soon as I wake up.  There's the wonderful drowsy feeling of slumber, then my alarm, then the pain behind my right eye.  And I know that it's going to be a migraine day.

It's this winter.  This horrible, horrible winter, with different storm fronts moving in nearly every day and electrical surges of cold so strong that I can feel them pulsing in my head every time I go outside, even just passing from my house to my car.  Extreme weather is one of my triggers, and every day for the last three weeks has qualified.

It has lain in wait for me for the last five days.  A constant pain behind my right eye--always there, never leaving, surging every time I step into the cold, picking up in intensity any time I get hungry or don't drink enough water.  Definitely a headache--more than just a naggy daily headache (because I have plenty of experience in knowing the difference), but not quite a full-fledged migraine either. 
Twice I tried taking a migraine pill to get rid of it, mindful of my neurologist's advice to nip it in the bud before it became full-blown.  And it disappeared then, for what I suppose was the duration of the time that the pill remained in my system.  And then it was back, that pressure, that pain, right behind my eye, not exploding into full-blown migraine, just enough to remind me that it was there and refused to go away, constant pain, refusing to be ignored.

And then, this morning, the explosion.

I know that migraine is, by definition, a neurological disease.  And yet it affects the entire body.  I knew that this was going to be the real thing because as the pain started to bloom behind my eye, the nausea blossomed in my stomach.  I need to eat, I thought, at the same time as the other half of my brain shouted, I need to throw up!  The first argument against myself.

Quick, get the kids off to the sitter.  They shouldn't have to see this.

The pain moves into my jaw.  Down my neck.  All on the right side.  Muscles tensing.  Knowing my body is in for a battle.

My right eye is a cavern of pain.  My left eye is fine.  I'm split against myself.

I argue, This is a chronic condition.  I need to learn to live with it.  I can't let it beat me. 

But my body screams for relief.

I think of the kitchen floor, covered in crushed cereal, spilled by the baby, stepped on by the bigger kids, needing desperately to be swept.  I think of the mountains of laundry I scheduled for today.  I think of the hours of work I need to put in to my work-from-home job--I had to quit my real job after the migraines got to be too much.  I think of the emails I need to respond to, the phonecalls I need to return, the commitments I have made.  I ache when I think of all the people I will disappoint, my family first among them, by just giving in.

But my body craves the dark room and the ice pack.  It will not be denied.  There are two of us inhabiting this body, having this argument, and the voice that is me is losing to the voice of the migraine.

The migraine steers me up the stairs.  Can I just start one load of laundry first? I plead.  No, it answers, but it does allow me stop and grab an ice pack, because it knows that it likes how that feels.  But I'm not even tired, I argue.  Just lay down, it says, and at least it won't hurt for a while.  And then the dark room, the pill, the ice pack, the silence, nothing but the arguments inside my head, fighting back and forth between me and migraine, until migraine wins and I pass into unconsciousness.


Amy Huang said...

Wonderful writing. Sorry about the migraine, mine is always the left side behind my eye. Hope you have relief soon.

Elizabeth said...

Great description of that battle. I hope it passes soon.

Melissa said...

So sorry about all this awfulness :(. Sending a hug.